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Nov 11 2008

US private equity firm pumps R1.5 bn into SA

Published by at 6:34 pm under Companies,Top Stories

No sooner has ex-IDC and ex-Eskom manager dr. Louis van Pletsen, set foot in the London office of his new employer US-based private equity firm Denham Capital, or the firm announced today it was ready to invest about €117 million (R1.5 billion) in South African renewable energy company BioTherm Energy.

Van Pletsen, a partner of Denham Capital and head of the London office, said in a press statement, “Denham Capital will provide the necessary equity capital for BioTherm Energy to develop, invest or acquire projects with a total capacity of 300 MW, enough to supply the electricity need of about 500,000 households.

“Private sector investment from companies such as BioTherm Energy will be essential in addressing South Africa’s energy deficit,” he added. 

Charles Liebenberg, co-founder and CEO of BioTherm Energy, said the partnership with Denham Capital will enable BioTherm Energy to continue its expansion programme. “For years South Africa has had cheap energy and an unfortunate result of this was inefficient usage,” he said.

“BioTherm Energy’s projects ensure that all forms of energy are harnessed to avoid waste, reduce carbon emissions and provide reliable power. The Power Conservation Programme, which rations electricity supply to consumers, reflects the severity of the power crisis in South Africa, which BioTherm can help address,” Liebenberg said.

Denham Capital is an energy-focused private equity firm with $4.3 billion committed to countless energy projects around the world. Van Pletsen’s primary task in London is to find financable projects in Europe, Russia/CIS, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 

Most recently, Van Pletsen served as managing director of the division Global Markets and head of the International Energy Group at Nomura International in London, where he was responsible for marketing structured finance, asset finance and capital markets capabilities to the energy and commodities sectors. 

Previously, he was head of international business development in London for South African utility provider Eskom. He began his career at SA investment house Industrial Development Corporation in 1986, where he was responsible for corporate investment strategy across a wide range of manufacturing and service sectors. 

Denham Capital typically targets equity investments in the $50 million to $250 million range. It has offices in Boston, Houston, New Jersey and London.

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